Updated: Mar 29, 2020
Classic literature: if it’s a thick book, a Penguin Classics book, an old book, then many assume it’s also a dry book, a dusty book, a boring book.
This is sad.
I love a solid classic novel, the kind it takes at least a week to read. And so in honor of some true literary genius, I’ve decided to explain a few of these classics just the way they are.
War! Betrayal! The love triangle to end all love triangles! This is one of my favorite books. To each character his own facade, her own gut-wrenching history, his own dramatic narrative. With emotions so raw that you might get salmonella, Dickens flies his readers through revolutionary-era France and England; he pulls no punches in gore, heartbreaking love, and characters deeper than the Mines of Moria. It takes a great deal to make me cry at a book, and yet I must confess that by the end of a Tale of Two Cities, I could barely see the pages through the tears. I laughed, I sympathized, I sighed, and then I sobbed. It was great. The book is great. Sydney Carton is great.
Never have I been so damn pissed at a character! Never have I felt so bad for someone I really, really hate! Ugh, Emily Brontë, why did you do me dirty like this? Everyone in this book is definitely insane, but here’s the tea: insane people make the best stories. Besides, Brontë creates such multifaceted potential for every single person that there is always, always a way to relate to them… which is scary, in a sanity-questioning way. There’s lots of love, lots of freaky infatuation, some questionable death, and definitely some people getting away with being really horrible to other people.
Also, the narrator is absolutely hilarious. He really doesn’t mean to be, which totally just makes it better.
Just kidding, I hate Hamlet. Next!
Murder! Omigod, more murder! Insanity! Blood! Prophesy! Witches! A man who believes a forest is coming closer to his house because… people are holding sticks and walking in that direction…?
Truly a wild ride.
If you like spiraling descents into madness, super-ambitious ladies, and lots of blood both real and imaginary, plus the infinite magic that is Scotland, then Macbeth was basically written for you. And really, who doesn’t like all those things?
Alright, let’s start a list.
*A shocking affair
*A kid named ‘Wart’
*A talking badger
Need I say more?
Aside from the plot wildness of T.H. White’s retelling of Camelot lore, the characters are deep, powerful, conflicted, and deeply flawed. But they’re also beautiful, incredibly relatable, and their complexity is the key driving force of the story.
Lumping ‘classic literature’ all into one category overlooks the incredible variety that these books hold. With hundreds and hundreds of stories, there’s truly something for everyone.
Even people who like Hamlet.
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